10 Questions with Chris Rieger

Staff Writer

Chris Rieger covered just about every job you can have in radio before hanging up the headphones and shifting to social media. 

From the high school student completing work experience at 93.9 Bay-FM in Geelong – where he “demonstrated a definite interest in radio and broadcasting” according to chief engineer John Sandles – to stints all over the country including K Rock and Magic882, Rieger has always proven himself to be dedicated to his craft.

Now working as a client strategy specialist for the Australia and NZ region at SocialNewsDesk, Rieger stepped away from social media and answered Radio Today’s 10 Questions.

  • Your time in radio has covered the full gauntlet; newsreader, copywriter, jock, music director and promotions. How and when did the radio bug first bite you?

I think I was born into it. The first street I lived on was Wireless Rd on Manus Island in PNG. I remember as a young kid doing radio shows on cassette and also scanning the dial listening to interstate radio stations like 5KA from Adelaide and 2UW from Sydney. Work experience at Bay-FM in high school is really when I decided that was the career path for me.

  • You’ve crossed a few states across all these gigs. Which radio stations have you worked for you, and what are some of your fondest memories?

This is a long list! It started at 4VL, then a short stint at 2WEB (they owned 4VL at the time… it was interesting because 2WEB was a community station and they formed a Co-Op to buy 4VL which had been switched off and shutdown). After Bourke it was on to 4AM, 4CC, 4LM/HOT-FM, 4MB/SEA-FM, 105.7 THE RIVER, 2GO, back to THE RIVER as PD, 4KQ & 97.3FM, Bay FM and K rock, then Magic and back to Bay and K!

  • A young and hungry Kyle Sandilands crossed your path in radio. What he like to work with in those early days?

He was a ratbag! Passionate about radio. I remember him saying he wanted to be the next Jamie Dunn. He set goals and he achieved them. I admire his determination. I was never quite as hungry as he was. When I say ratbag – I remember one time driving around with him in the 4CC Prize Patrol at night and he flashed the lights and made a car full of young guys pull over, only to speed off, waving as we went past. 

  • Although not full-time in the biz right now, we bet you still listen with your radio ears on. What stations and shows do you respect and follow closely?

I probably listen more closely than ever before. I absolutely love Chrissie, Sam and Browny on Nova100. I think it’s one of the best shows I’ve ever heard. They just work together. I’ve been a massive fan of Chrissy’s since seeing her on Big Brother. I’d listen to the show on the way to Geelong and they’d have me in stitches.

I also love Jonesy and Amanda, having worked with them previously when I was based at ARN in Sydney. Again, they just work well as a team. The station I’ve been listening to most in Melbourne lately is GOLD 104.3. Whoever is doing the music is nailing it. I’m hearing stuff like Pearl Jam, Nirvana and more rockier 90s sounding tracks along with all the 80s stuff I love. It’s probably the best I’ve heard it sound.

Also love Smooth – I’m constantly surprised by the tracks I hear. Nova wins the CHR battle. It’s great to hear DC on the air – I was his PD in Albury and knew then he was destined for bigger things.

  • Following your stint at Magic882 you moved on to a social media gig at Seven West Media. How did you find the switch from Radio to TV?

Someone once said to me social media is like when FM radio was introduced. It’s the new kid on the block still. The switch was pretty easy because at the end of the day it’s all about content and more importantly great content.

In some ways it’s a lot like radio. Some posts you think will work really well don’t get much engagement, others you sit back and scratch your head. At the end of the day it’s about understanding your audience and giving them what they want in spades. 

  • Back in 2015 you moved into social media full time, how did that come about and what attracted you to online over on-air content?

While I was doing the early morning social shift for 7News I was put in touch with Tony Shepherd from SND. Having used the product and seeing it’s potential it was a no brainer. I was looking for another challenge and the opportunity to help him grow the product in this market was too good to pass up. In some ways I felt I’d done everything in radio so the chance to gain skills in a new medium was the icing on the cake. Online content really is no different to on-air. Again, it’s understanding your audience.

  • Is Australian radio doing a good job on social media? What can stations and shows be doing better?

It’s certainly improved, and I think this year I’ve been seeing far more original content from the big networks as opposed to just the memes and text only posts many still do. The biggest and most important thing radio can do with social media is take the listener on a journey behind the scenes and offer content that doesn’t go to air. This could be extended interviews with celebs – for example live Q&A’s on Facebook. Instagram Stories/Snapchat big moments that happen in the studio. It can not only drive new listeners to the station, but it can give those already listening a feeling of being there in the moment. 

  • Tell us about Social News Desk. What is it? And how it can power content and newsrooms? 

It’s basically a social media management platform that allows you discover and curate content and then post across multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts. For newsrooms, you can set up a stream that will monitor up to 50 Facebook pages, all in the one column. Same with Twitter. The major difference is this software has been designed by former journalists with broadcasters and publishers in mind. There are also other add-ons such as Campaigns which allows you to monetise your social media, and On-Air which pulls social media posts from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and displays it in a format that can either go live to a TV screen or captured and edited into online videos. It’s a great way to get your audience involved with your product. 

  • Are there any new Social News Desk features in the works you can tell us about? 

Without giving too much away, the main thing about our product is it’s constantly evolving from client feedback. Last year the product evolved into SND 2.0. It was completely redesigned. A lot of the features were based on the needs of our clients. Our development team is always looking at adding new features to better serve our clients. Just recently we added Auto Pilot which can pull posts from a website’s RSS Feed and post to social channels out of hours. 

  • Finally, what are your top five social media tips for radio? 

1. Filter it – Ask yourself ‘Is this entertaining/interesting/relevant?’. 

2. Be creative – I really hate memes. More video, especially behind the scenes stuff. Video is the way of the future and continuing to grow, especially on Facebook. 

3. Check spelling. I’m surprised by the amount of posts I see that have simple typos.

4. Don’t post depressing news stories to your main Facebook page. You should be giving your listeners an oasis away from the doom and gloom! They can get that stuff elsewhere. If you need to post local news, set up a dedicated Local News page. You want your main page to be a place they can switch off and see an extension of your brand and interact with your on-air personalities.

5. Subscribe to my daily podcast and keep up to date with the latest #socialmedianews! 

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